Saturday, December 21, 2013

Year Two. Day Twenty-One: "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" (2009)

The sub-genre of non-Christmas set adaptations of "A Christmas Carol" is a weird but fascinating area. This year I have already reviewed a Halloween and a Valentine take on the story. This adaptation doesn't use a calendar date at all and instead, hangs its plot around a wedding.

Matthew McConaughey plays the Scrooge role in this wildly irreverent version. He is Connor Mead, a womanising photographer who does not believe in love or marriage. In the real world, somebody's rejection of assumed societal norms is not a problem, least of all as in this case, nobody is being harmed by Connor's beliefs except for (possibly) himself. However, this is a Hollywood movie and any deviation from the norm is seen as a terrible malady that must be fixed.

On the eve of his brother's wedding to Gretchen Wieners from Mean Girls (the always fetch Lacey Chabert,) Connor is visited by the ghost of his departed uncle and told he will be guided through the evening by the spirits of past girlfriends who will take him to the past, present and future to help him understand the error of his ways and how he can truly find love with Jennifer Garner.

The main problem with this movie is that Connor is such an odious, lecherous pig that we have no desire to see him find happiness or to get the girl in the end (after a tedious race-to-the-airport climax.) Matthew McConaughey plays this man as such a vile, donkey-face misogynist that he comes across as borderline sociopathic. How are meant to root for him?

Worst of all are the woman-hating, slut shaming, homophobic string of non-jokes that are somehow meant to make us regard Connor as a loveable rascal. He is nothing of the sort and by the time his redemption comes around (complete with window-flinging-open scene) you'll be hoping that his supposed true love will finally see some sense and get as far away from him as she can.

Despite that, McConaughey is surrounded by a cast of far, far more talented actresses who flesh their characters out fully in ways that the script itself has mostly denied them. It is never explained why all of these smart women are falling to their knees in front of this disgusting excuse for a man (save for the creepy wish fulfilment story the two male writers were no doubt in search for.)

As hard on the stomach as a Boxing Day hangover.

"Ghosts of Girlfriends Past." (2009)  1/5

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